Needed: Votes

I’m at the Tech Policy Summit. There was a particularly good panel yesterday that included Tod Cohen and Ken Kay talking about what it takes to do effective policy work. Tod’s quite blunt: “Do you vote?” That’s the question he asks people who want to do policy work with Ebay. You have to love politics, he says, to be in this business. It’s all about incremental advances and relationship-building.

Without votes, nothing happens. Just being smart or persistent won’t make any difference.

It’s sobering. Who has votes for an open internet?

I certainly believe in my side of the argument, and I even think that we’ll have all kinds of economic data that shows that having private gatekeepers with power over a general-purpose network won’t be good for the rest of us. But sometimes I feel like I’m part of the Folk Song Army. Do you remember that Tom Lehrer song?

Here it is:

We are the Folk Song Army
Everyone of us … *cares*
We all hate poverty, war and injustice
Unlike the rest of you squares

/ D – G – / A7 – D – / B7 – Em – / D A7 D A7 /

. . .

If you feel dissatisfaction
Strum your frustrations away
Some people may prefer action
But give me a folk song any old day

/ F#m – C#m – / / G – D – / Em – F#7 – /

….

Remember the war against Franco
That’s the kind where each of us belongs
Though he may have won all the battles
We had all the good *songs*

/ C# – D – / – - C# – / :

So join in the Folk Song Army
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice
Ready, aim, sing!

To avoid being a kind of Folk Song Army, we need leadership, votes, and constituents telling stories.  FreePress, PublicKnowledge, and SaveTheInternet work at this very hard.

Comments

  1. Tom Lowenhaupt says:

    I totally agree, “we need leadership, votes, and constituents telling stories” and a fourth element that I forget and reforget (probably because it’s painfully difficult work), ORGANIZING.

  2. Feld’s Law of Political Power:
    “Your political power is directly propotionate to your perceived ability to cause pain.”